Interlude: Graves We Have Yet To Fill

“The middle years of the Uncivil Wars can roughly be described as a series of conflicts fought to determine peace terms. The tragedy of those years, in retrospective, can be said that while the overwhelming majority of them desired peace no two Calernian powers could agree on what exactly the terms of it should be – and so to war they all went, convinced every step of the way that the others were at fault for it.”
– Extract from the personal memoirs of Lady Aisha Bishara

The third volley did not work better than those before it.

The spears of flame rose into the sky like quarrels loosed, before the guiding sorceries of the legion mages who’d performed the ritual pulled them down. The arc was sudden but graceful, the crackling fire in red and gold tearing straight through the five largest apparitions the Dominion had sent forward. Earth and snow dispersed at the explosion of heat and light, the grounds beneath what had been the shape of strange creatures scorched through a vaporized layer of a frost. There were about a hundred of the damned things, General Abigail thought, but it wouldn’t have been too bad if a ritual volley actually put the abominations downs. Instead she winced as she watched the flames of her mages disperse in turn, leaving behind only small droplets of eldritch power hovering in the air. A heartbeat later the ground beneath the droplets began breaking up and the creatures that’d been broken began reforming.

“It’s not getting any slower, ma’am,” Krolem said.

“I can see that, thank you,” she acidly replied.

Fuck. At this rate the entire web of traps the army’s sappers had worn themselves to the bone digging during nights and hiding before dawn came would be trampled into irrelevance by some strange godsdamned Levantine magic. She squinted at the creatures again, noting how the massive manticore in the lead acted like it was actually hungry. That had to be blasphemous, right? It was all looking a little too much like necromancy, and you weren’t supposed to do that if you were on the side of a crusade these people were on.

“I’m not arguing the House Insurgent is right, mind you,” she muttered. “But this needs looking at, is all I’m saying.

“Ma’am?” Krolem asked, sounding confused.

Had he been talking? Abigail had no idea, but now was not the time to look like she was losing it in front of the troops. The Black Queen’s barn-burning oration at Sarcella had riled them up like young dockworkers who’d just gotten their first pay. If they thought she was the weak link in this army, Abigail thought with a sudden urge to grimace, they were going to tear her apart. Possibly literally given the amount of orcs there were in the ranks. Look calm, Abigail, she told herself. It’s all under control.

“Quite right, Krolem,” she slowly said. “Spot on. On that note, I need you to request a deployment order from Marshal Juniper.”

She sent him off after a quick elaboration, fairly sure the Hellhound would refuse her request and so in the after-battle reports she’d have an excuse for her failure to perform. That it would put her straight at odds with the Marshal of Callow would be even better, she giddily thought. Marshal Juniper might even demote her, or drum her out of the army.

A girl could dream, couldn’t she?

Forward, Akil Tanja had ordered.

The Lord of Malaga was no fool, to send his binders forward unprotected, but neither would he spare them contribution. After Lady Aquiline had requested the deployment of his finest war-sorcerers to clear the approach of traps, he’d immediately sent for his son. Razin was in need of deeds to redeem himself, if he was to remain the heir to Malaga, and opportunity would arise soon enough. For that purpose Akil had ordered the boy to gather captains enough for two thousand warriors, all bearing shields, and appointed him to command before sending him to reinforce the binders. They would need that protection soon enough, the Lord of Malaga knew, for the bound spirits that had been sent forth were reaching the end of their leash. No other power of Levant had made as deep study of the arts of binding like the Grim Binder’s line, and though Malaga was hardly the only city to send binders to war for the other families such a thing was rare and always in small numbers. That had obscured some of the limitations of their craft, which would become clear very soon if Akil was not careful with his orders.

The binding of a soul or spirit was done with one’s own blood mixed with the ancient flower-dye, tattooed on one’s skin with needles of barrow-bone. The patterns of these bindings had been refined by Akil’s ancestors, to require less breadth and shackle the bound more tightly – and cease sickening the blood of those who used them recklessly. The sharing of those secrets with those who entered the service of the Tanja was why so many practitioners came to Malaga, with the finest among them allowed to read the tomes of the Obscure Library in exchange for oaths to answer calls to war by the ruling lord or lady of the city. Yet since the founding of the Dominion, no binder saved those Bestowed had ever succeeded at sending one of their bound entities further than three hundred feet from themselves. Akil was talented in the art, as befitting of his blood, and so the silver-winged hawk he’d bound as a boy he could send as far as two hundred and twelve feet without the shackle turning on him. Yet it was a rare thing for any binder to reach more than two hundred feet, and even most of those allowed to peruse the Obscure Library remained in the antechamber of that hurdle.

This mattered today, if only because soon the spirits of his binders would have to halt their advance. Ordering them to advance would remedy the issue and allow them to clear the entire field all the way to the enemy fortifications without further casualties, but it would also leave them vulnerable. Razin and the shield-bearing warriors he’d assembled would see to that vulnerability, he’d decided. It would leave his son close to the front, too, and so able to lead the assault against the same force that had humbled him at Sarcella.

At the head of his host the Malaga binders were surrounded by rings of steel, and as he had ordered forward they all went.

“Why?”

Marshal Juniper of the Red Shields was frowning. General Abigail’s tribune – a good Hoaring Hoof Clan boy by the look of his jaw, she’d noted with approval – cleared his throat in that way young officers always did when they had no good answer but had to answer anyway. Silver-quick, the wistful thought that Nauk truly had ruined that army down to the bone came and went.

“So she didn’t say,” the Hellhound cut in before he could reply.

Tribune Krolem sheepishly flared his teeth, and did not deny it.

“Only a thousand?” Juniper asked again, to confirm.

“Yes ma’am,” Tribune Krolem agreed.

The Marshal of Callow’s instinct was to send him back with an order for General Abigail to make a proper proposal including for what she wanted the soldiers, but she held her tongue. Catherine had raised the other woman up for a reason, and it would not be anything as simple as birth. If her warlord had simply wanted to put Callowan hands on the reins of her armies, Juniper suspected Brandon Talbot would have been the chosen candidate. Instead, though, she’d chosen an enlisted legionary who’d shot up the ranks. Not someone with ties to nobles or fame in the kingdom. Catherine had seen something in the younger woman, and though Juniper of the Red Shields did not she’d not long ago had reminder of the value of trust.

“She has them, then,” Marshal Juniper said. “See Tribune Bishara for the proper writ and be on your way.”

The boy moved quick, like she’d stung him, but Juniper had already put him out of her mind. Marshal Grem’s curious eye on her she ignored as well, her own attention now solely turned to the southern front. What was the first commander Catherine had handpicked since Juniper herself scheming, exactly?

Shit, Abigail thought, look at the writ Krolem had just handed her with a sinking feeling in her stomach. The Hellhound had actually agreed? Why would she – no, don’t panic, she told herself. This could still be salvaged if she watcher her step. On one hand, she’d actually be expected to produce results now. On the other hand, as long as she tried to pull off a vaguely coherent plan and failed she’d probably still manage to avoid the noose. Gods, Abigail knew she should have made her request more unreasonable, if she’d gone overboard the Marshal would have refused. But no, she’d just to had hedge her bets and make it look like her theoretical plan had been reasonable just to improve the chances the Black Queen wouldn’t feed her liver to buzzards after this was all over with. Her mother was right, she’d never learned to quit while she was ahead. Sure, Ma had lost an eye and a finger brawling with Annie Sutherland over who made the better beer, but just because she was a lunatic didn’t mean she was wrong. Fucking Sutherlands, anyway, strutting around like Annie having been in the Royal Guard meant she knew anything about brewing.

“She did know a thing or two about knives, though,” she conceded in a mutter.

“It is a great honour, ma’am,” Krolem, who was still there, rumbled approvingly.

“Yes,” Abigail echoed with a stiff smile. “Honour. Just the word I was thinking of.”

The Callowan general hid her rising horror with the practiced skill of someone who’d been forced to be around the Queen of Callow and pretend not to be terrified the whole time. All right, so the damned Levant magic beasties didn’t die to fire and that probably meant they wouldn’t give a damn about siege engines either. Munitions, maybe? Couldn’t really do that without using sending sappers in, which seemed ill-advised, but it was only the First Army that had the ‘spitters’, those strange devices Sapper-General Pickler used to lob munitions over long distances. Goblinfire was a restricted substance as of last year, though, so Abigail would need authorization from the Hellhound to send for any and that’d be suspicious as all Hells since Krolem had just been there. Options, she needed options.

“Where’s our Senior Sapper?” she asked Krolem.

“She’s checking in on our engines,” the tribune gravelled. “Though she asked me to pass her continued protest as to the amount of munitions we passed on to Special Tribune Robber.”

“Why?” Abigail said, feeling another spike of fear.

“His cohort isn’t part of the Third Army, it’s detached,” the orc said.

“Why did we pass munitions to Special Tribune Robber?” she clarified.

“You don’t need to test me, ma’am,” Krolem reproached. “Your signature was on the forms, the general staff is aware you planned some contingencies – just not what they are.”

Oh Gods, Abigail thought, realizing that the Black Queen’s favourite goblin assassin had forged her authorization for something involving munitions and she had absolutely no idea what. O Gods, Abigail silently repeated, turning to prayer in her hour of need, I know I’m in the service of a villain but isn’t this still a little much?

Razin Tanja crouched down to the side of the pit.

He’d return to the front of the formation soon enough, but for now he… Well, he wasn’t sure exactly what it was he was doing. There was something about this situation that felt like a stone in his boot. The Third Army had defended Sarcella with dogged viciousness, making the Dominion pay in blood for every street. They had done so even after being taken by surprise in the middle of the night after the assassination of their commanders, which while Razin still thought little of Callowan heresy had nonetheless impressed him in regard to that people’s discipline. Now that same army was facing them from a tall palisade after having days and night to prepare, and all they had prepare was a few pits with stakes at the bottom? No, he could not believe that. Certainly the fighting would harden the closer they came to the rampart, but this was too little.

It was not a complicated trap to build, Razin decided as he studied it. A stake at the bottom, the slopes inclined so anyone falling would be led towards it. Some sort of thin weave had been used to keep the hole covered, but it’d been crumpled by the claws of a bound wyvern and the weave had fallen below. That part was the most cleverly made, the heir to Malaga mused, for the weave had made the grounds look perfectly untouched until it was touched. Now the rings of shield-bearers escorting the binders were going around the revealed traps, advance slow but steady. The two sworn swords behind him were shuffling impatiently, but Razin refused to be hurried. He rose just enough to move, circling around the rim of the hole, and wrestled down the embarrassment he was starting to feel. It was a simple pit trap, and he might be making a fool of himself by insisting on taking so long a look at one.

The man’s fingers clenched. No. He would not bend so easily as that. Pride had already led him down a dead end once. If a little humiliation let him make certain there was no deeper trap then he’d suffer the bite and do so unflinchingly. The sun shining from behind him – the afternoon at his back warmed him even in his armour – gave him half a breath’s worth of warning, and that meant he survived the first blow. Coming out in a spray snow and earth from a hidden nook within the put, a howling goblin tossed something at Razin’s sworn swords while leaping up with a knife bared. The heir to Malaga caught the blade with his shield even as he tumbled backwards, the wildly cackling creature continuing to stab away as it landed on him. There was a loud crack behind them and something wet landed on Razin’s cheek. The yellow-eyed monster bared needle-like teeth and slid the knife between two armour plates, but the Levantine socked it in the mouth with an armoured fist. Wincing at the shallow wound, Razing Tanja rose even as the goblin spat out blood and laughed, reaching for something in its leather satchel.

It never got to finish the movement, for the heir to Malaga rammed the hunting knife he’d adroitly palmed through its left eye.

Back on his feet a heartbeat later, Razin grimaced when he saw the bloody mess the thrown munition had made of his two escorts from the shoulders up. Blood and bone and brain fluid stained the snow around the two corpses. Gaze turning to the rest of his command, he heard the crack of further munitions and grimly admitted to himself the Third Army of Callow had once more succeeded as springing an ambush on him.

Special Tribune Robber assessed the situation with a proud stare.

Sure, they’d been forced to come out early when one of his minions had revealed their presence before the enemy was fully past their force. On the other hand, even springing this too soon they’d gotten a full two dozen of those Dominion sorcerers. Dipping low, Robber leaned forward a bit to better slit the throat of the blinded warrior he’d caught with his brightstick. Popping out of the holes and hitting fast with munitions, his cohort had done a lot damage in the span of thirty heartbeats. But not, he mused, enough to secure a comfortable retreat. The strange spirits the Dominion mages had sent ahead to continue ripping up traps were hurrying back, and between those and the warriors recovering from the surprise two hundred goblins all spread out had no real chance of fighting their way out. He whistled, loud and clear, three times. Scatter, it meant. Smothering a grin, the Special Tribune began the run back to the tender embrace of the palisade held by the Third Army. A great day’s work, if any of them survived.

Still a good day’s work, if they didn’t.

“They won’t make it,” Krolem said.

They most definitely would not, Abigail silently agreed. Already more than twenty goblins had been slain by warriors running them down, but those had been the few whose hiding place had been within the Levantine formation. The rest has scattered to the wings with that insolent goblin aplomb, not that it would save them. They were quick, Special Tribune Robber’s sappers. Far quicker than humans on foot, especially on trickier terrain like snow. But they were not quicker than the enemy’s creatures, not even close, and with more than seventy of those left there was no doubt about the outcome of the chase. The monsters were drawing back already, closing the gap with inevitable haste. Maybe ten would make it out alive, General Abigail guessed. If that.

“Brave man, Special Tribune Robber,” her aide added, tone thick with respect.

Fuck, Abigail thought, with a fresh well of horror. The Black Queen’s favourite goblin assassin was about to get himself killed, and the only parchment trail there would be of it bore her signature. Faked, sure, but who’d ever believe that? She was going to get blamed for this wasn’t she? She was going to get blamed for this and some godsdamned buzzards were going to eat her liver. She needed to get at least that one goblin out alive. Striking with rituals again? No, wouldn’t work. They’d gotten quite good at avoiding those, and there were too many beasts anyway. Slowing down less than ten at a time wouldn’t get her anywhere. What did she have? Siege engines, which wouldn’t do anything more than the rituals, legionaries and – oh, oh. Abigail might just survive this yet.

“Still got that writ, Krolem?” she nonchalantly asked. “Send them out now.”

“Ah,” the orc breathed out, looking at her with shining eyes. “I understand now, ma’am. You’ve played the Dominion like a fiddle.”

“That is absolutely what I did,” Abigail baldly lied.

Akil Tanja’s fingers had begun clenching with the first explosion and had not loosened since. He had not anticipated that the goblins in the Black Queen’s service would burrow like worms within their own traps, and neither had his son. Malaga had lost nearly thirty binders for that mistake, men and women whose powers had each taken decades and a fortune to forge. Dead, faster than it took to drink a cup of wine. Now the wretched creatures were fleeing, but they would be run down. If any of them was taken alive, he would have the damned creatures hung from his battle-standard after personally crushing their malevolent skulls. At least Razin had drawn the enemy’s blood and asserted control swiftly, which should prevent his reputation from being tarred too much by this unpleasant turn.

“Movement by the enemy, my lord,” one of his captains announced.

The Lord of Malaga followed the man’s gaze and found the Army of Callow was opening the southern gate of the camp. Reinforcements to extricate the sappers? They would arrive too late. Akil rather hoped the enemy commander was fool enough to send legionaries forward. The spirits bound by his war-sorcerers could kill soldiers as easily as they could clear traps, and any legionary killed down on the plains was one that would not be fighting from atop the palisade. The wooden grate opened, and Akil Tanja’s lips thinned at what he saw. Horsemen, the first of the column carrying a tall banner: a bronze bell with a jagged crack going through, set on black. Lord Akil had read of these: the Order of Broken Bells, the sole remaining knightly order of Callow.

“Call them back,” the Lord of Malaga said. “Now. And hurry the skirmishers forward.”

Two of his captains peeled off like he’d swung at them with hot iron, both bearing orders. From where he sat astride his horse, Akil was forced to watch it all unfold without being able to intervene. The Callowan knights thundered out of the fortified camp without missing a stride, forming up as they advanced. There must have been at least a thousand, Akil saw with rising dread. The skirmishers were on foot, the binders and their escort too far ahead. They would not arrive soon enough. The only hope of the binders – of his son – was that the bound spirits would slow the enemy knights long enough for a retreat. Razin must have understood the point as keenly, for the bound creatures abandoned pursuit of the goblins within moments and turned sharply to the side. Facing them, the knights of the Broken Bells slowly lowered their lances and quickened from canter to full gallop. The sight of it, Akil thought, was moving. Callowan knights in their prayer-carved armours, charging a host of beasts. The Lord of Malaga tensed for the impact, eyes fixed on the lances.

He flinched in disbelief, when the knights rode through the spirits like they were mist.

Sorcery sliding off their armour like water off a duck’s back, the Knights of the Broken Bells broke through and kept charging.

There was something deeply satisfying, Abigail mused, about watching Callowan knights trample enemy foot. It scratched an itch she hadn’t known she had. The enemy mages tried other sorceries, after their nasty little trick failed, but flames and curses were nothing new to the cavalry of Kingdom of Callow. Compared to the Praesi, she thought, these Dominion folk were fumbling amateurs. The commander of the Order’s detachment had split his horse into two wedges of five hundred and rammed them straight at the enemy shield walls, shattering men and shields alike. The knights had then withdrawn in good order, after the initial momentum of the charge was spent, and formed up as they turned the enemy flank and simply charged again. The Dominion had sent two thousand foot to escort its sorcerers, but by the time General Abigail sounded the retreat for her cavalry more than half that number was lying dead on the ground. It might have been more, if enemy reinforcements hadn’t hurried. Where sorcery would fail javelins might just succeed, so reluctantly she’d pulled back the Order. Abigail was leaning against the top of the palisade with her elbows and watching the cavalry retreat in good order when she heard her tribune return.

“Special Tribune and his cohort have been settled, ma’am,” Krolem said.

She nodded absent-mindedly. The goblin she’d needed to keep alive as alive, beyond that they were hardly her concern.

“It’s about to get ugly, Tribune,” she said, gazing at the massing enemy.

The skirmishers remained spread out, but the foot behind them was now locked in thick formations. They were getting ready for a run at the palisade.

“Ma’am?” the orc said.

“Get the engines aimed,” Abigail of Summerholm grimly said. “They have a path to us mostly cleared, now they’re going to take it.”

Lord Yannu Marave patted his horse’s mane, and fondly held out his palm to feed her the last piece of bread from the loaf when she turned. He’d been told of the debacle to the south by the outriders he’d left to keep an eye on the situation, and it had darkened his mood. A few hundred warriors were a drop in the sea of what would be lost before this was all done and over with, but binders were a rare breed. They might have been of great use in the war to the north, had the Lord of Malaga’s blunder not effectively pissed away half of them. Yet there was no point in losing his temper, he knew. This was merely the first movement of an intricate dance, and his side had never been meant to win it. In the distance he watched the skirmishes of Vaccei and their Lantern guides make it to the edge of the slaughter yard, and only then raised a hand. One of the lesser horns was sounded, and the warriors came to halt. As well they should – any further and they would be in what he suspected to be the outer range of the enemy’s engines. In truth he should probably should have let them continue advancing until that suspicion was confirmed, but in the end he would rather overestimate enemy range than throw away lives on such a petty confirmation.

He had what he needed of this northern front and if any of Akil Tanja’s captains had eyes they would have what he needed of that front as well.

“I would have your judgement, Peregrine,” he calmly requested.

The Grey Pilgrim did not answer immediately. Instead the holy man gazed at the distant ring of raised stones, that incongruous crown atop a tall barrow.

“She will not step in even if the palisade is assaulted,” the Pilgrim finally said. “Perhaps not even if the camp is breached, as you had arranged.”

And so, Yannu knew, this meant the Peregrine would not intervene either. It had been made clear to the Lord of Alava what the consequences of the Grey Pilgrim acting first might be, and he would not have such disaster brought upon them all.

“Then the offensive I had planned is doomed to failure,” Yannu of the Champion’s Blood said, unruffled. “And we must resort to the second string to our bow.”

A shame. He’d enjoyed the cleverness of the scheme, the use of the Saint and the Sorcerer to take the cavalries through crumbling Arcadia and strike at the heart of the enemy camp while assault on the palisades tied down most of their troops. Yet one must now grow too fond of plans, lest they be followed even when they no longer suited. As was the case here, to his understanding. Neither the Grand Alliance nor the Black Queen wanted to risk the heavy casualties of a committed duel to death, which meant every manoeuvre on this field was in fact was a jostling for position in some greater game. One where the victor could twist the arm of the defeated without having sown too great a field of corpses first. It was Yannu Marave’s duty to help the Peregrine triumph in this struggle, nothing less or more.

“Sound the retreat for all hands,” the Lord of Alava ordered his horn-bearer.

The Peregrine looked at him strangely, as if the holy man was watching someone both a stranger and an old friend. It might truly be so, Yannu thought, if the old stories about his distant kin Lady Sintra were more than merely that.

“You will be challenged over this,” the Pilgrim said.

“I have been challenged before,” Yannu Marave said, neither boastful nor wary.

He might have to kill Akil Tanja, the Lord of Alava mused, or at least the man’s champion. The Lord of Malaga had taken enough losses today anger might lead him to such a blunder. Perhaps even a second champion would need killing, when he told the others that they would resume the attack during the night now that the safe paths to the palisade had been cleared. Ah well, these things happened. Nothing for it but swinging the blade.

Victory was born of blood, and only ever earned through it: this Yannu Marave knew true as any other child of Levant.

278 thoughts on “Interlude: Graves We Have Yet To Fill

    1. Jeffery Wells

      She had quickly become my favorite tertiary character, by far.

      I love that she keeps blundering into success, no matter how hard she tries to fail. She’ll be the second Marshall of Callow soon enough at the rate she’s going.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andrew Mitchell

        It certainly __could__ be, but Cat wants to make sure the Alliance is mostly intact. Was it maximum of 15% casualties she said during her planning session with Robber?

        Liked by 12 people

          1. caoimhinh

            Yep, and considering that 20% of the GA army is over 24 thousand people, even if the casualties don’t reach half of that number, it would still be a huge slaughter numbering in the thousands.

            Liked by 3 people

      1. caoimhinh

        It seems Cat hasn’t figured it out yet. As far as we have seen, Cat only sees her as “the first truly Callowan General in the Army of Callow” so she wants to train Abigail so she can be skilled enough to maintain the position. And given that Abigail’s success looked like quick-wit and improvisation in the face of danger before, and in this chapter it looked like deep planning and cunning anticipation of enemy movements, it won’t stand out as a story yet.

        I think it will take a bit more before Cat notices it, and it will be quite a shock for her when she realizes Abigail is following Catherine’s own groove in the workings of Fate.

        Amadeus would probably quickly figure it out when he wakes up, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Admittedly, a big man on a big horse backed up by the best anti-sorcery miracles a thousand years of grinding attrition against the greatest empire of casters on Calernia can produce, but eh, semantics.

        Liked by 29 people

      1. RoflCat

        To be fair, the only Drow they know of are the exiled ones, like Ivah initially.

        They’ve yet to ever face the Firstborns, and while I think the Pilgrim knows what the crows are, he might not be aware that the relation between Cath and Sve Noc is….unusual.

        “Try a foot”

        Liked by 12 people

        1. The relationship being unusual is utterly irrelevant here.

          The drow are like… like if Levantine forces were actually secretly all Lanterns if engaged exactly at dawn. You wouldn’t GUESS it from knowing about the existence of Lanterns, or absolutely any data on their Named.

          Liked by 12 people

        1. When you see a borderline-Named super powerful priest who also happens to be the general of the force, you don’t just jump from there to the assumption that the entire force is secretly also priests.

          The drow are pretty fucking out there by Calernian measures.

          Liked by 12 people

          1. Insanenoodlyguy

            Plus Rumena was fighting during day and pilgrim packed Devine hint system for once. He can assume sensibly that cat brought up a drow heavy hitter, and that theres gonna be a few more drow with that same kind of mojo in her army. He has no reason yet to believe he and the rest get spinach when the sun goes down.

            Liked by 9 people

        1. Well, Rumena was clearly carefully selected by Cat to be a hidden contingency, so it is a safe bet that they were chosen for their skill and power.

          Plus, all other known encounters with the drow in recent times? They’ve been the exiles even more devoid of Night than Ivah was. The mercenaries that even Akua could tell were unimpressive crap troops.
          Sure, there were some drow with Cat when she extracted Third Army, but they were thought to be demons initially(not sure if that misconception has been corrected or not) and were fighting as skirmishers in broad daylight.

          They do have legitimate cause to be fairly dismissive of the average Drow grunt.
          They’re hilariously wrong, probably, unless they got an infodump from a Choir or something else linked to Above, but they genuinely don’t (or shouldn’t) have the information to accurately assess the capabilities of and threat level of the drow.

          Liked by 10 people

      2. Kissaten

        Maybe he’s just baiting her trump cards out. It seems like he’s operating on yu-gi-oh logic of having a counter to a counter, so by taking out initial surprise of the drow in the dark in a controlled battle he aims to deny his enemy a surprise.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Cicero

    Now now Abigail, you were not completely surprised by your success. You did suspect that the Broken Bells holy runes would negate or lessen the effectiveness of the binders familiars.

    Even if this wasn’t planned, you had good instincts and exploited the opportunities you got. Luck is a horse to ride like any other, and just like any horse, riding it does require skill.

    Liked by 27 people

    1. jalexanderb

      My gods, she’s fallen into the Role of a comedy protagonist.

      So long as she continues being absolutely clueless and hilarious to an outside observer she’s UNSTOPPABLE.

      Liked by 29 people

      1. Aotrs Commander

        Fast forward, like, twenty years, and we see a confused and quietly terrified Supreme God-Empress Abigail sitting on the Combined Throne of Calernia, Above And Below wondering where the FUCK she went wrong…

        Liked by 22 people

        1. Or rather, “where did [she] go right?” Ever see the play The Producers?? The title characters are lamenting the success of their play, which was supposed to be a tax dodge or suchlike.

          Like

    2. ______

      Yeah. The only thing that could backfire with using the knights as a go-to anty-sorcery measure would be lord Tanja leaving the priests with the mine-trawling group, but that would be:

      a) excessive, considering thae different manner of clearing the traps and possible interaction of sorcery and miracles;

      b) putting too many eggs in one basket, which even Razin was wary of;

      c) a bad move overall, considering that nothing was stopping Abigail from ordering another ritual.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Knights were p much designed to be a go-to anti-sorcery measure, and Levantines have never needed an anti-knight measure before. It took Amadeus&Grem for Praes to come up with anti-knight measures with centuries of history behind their backs, I don’t think Levantines can figure out a counter easily 😀

        The real issue here is that Cat really doesn’t want a war of attrition…

        Liked by 3 people

        1. They don’t really need a counter to the knights, they can just match them with heavy horse of their own, they’ve done it before. As long as they can keep the knights away from the binders, it’s all good.

          Traditionally in their fights vs Praes, they were so devastating because Praes had no real cavalry. They depended on massed foot and sorcerers.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Alivaril

    Waiting to attack until after nightfall, eh? Brilliant move. Nothing could possibly go wrong. I’m sure there will only be minimal casualties taken during the assault.

    Liked by 30 people

  3. Cap'n Smurfy

    I think this chapter can be best summarized as Abigail tripping over her own feet and accidentally performing a triple front flip, making it look like she meant to do that.

    Hilariously blundering her way through her problems and somehow coming out looking the better for it really sums up her story.

    Liked by 33 people

    1. Insanenoodlyguy

      It is a little known fact that the Name “Peerless Tactitican” does not exist. Oh, it is a name that has come up a few times, but the bearer knows the real name is “The Serendipitous”. To allow the truth of the name to be revealed is to lose its potency, often at cost, though holders are tempted as their victories magnitudes and thus the threats they face inevitably escalate.

      Liked by 24 people

    2. I would say it’s a little more than blundering.

      Abigail looked at the field full of magical summons and thought “this is what knights are for, my effectiveness is at like 10% of maximum if I don’t have knights”.

      So she sends for knights, despite not having a detailed plan for what to do with them in mind. Her logic is just that she can do nothing without knights, ergo, sending for the knights is the right thing to do.

      Then the knights actually come and she starts panicking because she’s not used to the idea that improvising is a valid approach to the situation and think she was “supposed” to already have a full plan in mind.

      Then she improvises successfully, because actually she’s genuinely good at intuitively assessing what resources she needs to handle the situation and then coming up with solutions on the fly once she has the toolbox.

      Liked by 17 people

        1. Insanenoodlyguy

          So Abigail was right and thus looks exceptionally brilliant for realizing the priest blessed armor would be an excellent counter. She was even heard mumbling about it before her brilliant execution! That’s good.

          Liked by 21 people

            1. Insanenoodlyguy

              Krolem later to his fellows ( I figure from what we know, orcs LIKE Abigail, shes drinks fae blood in the middle of a fight. Nice to know one of the humans gets it.)

              “So I’m thinking it looks pretty bad, then she mumbles something about the priests on our side. I don’t get it, but she rushes me off to the hellhound to ask for some knights. Hellhound figures it out faster then me and I’m sent off to get the writ. I come back and she asks if I’ve got the plan figured out, cant say I did yet. Then the sappers trap was sprung! I’m thinking this is it, but it would be a good death for them, yeah?But that’s when she let’s loose the trap within the trap within the trap! I finally get that why she was mentioning the priests when those knights ride out and go through those monsters like fog! I tell you, the look on her face would belong on an orc if she just had better teeth.”

              Liked by 16 people

      1. Cap'n Smurfy

        Binding the spirits of defeated beasts to oneself to use in battle seems more like a morally grey area, especially compared to the outright evil magical zombie army of Praesi Necromancy. The prayers on Knights armours are designed to turn away sorcery in general however. Morally grey spirits with bodies literally made of sorcery? May as well be paper in front of a good holy charge.

        Liked by 20 people

        1. Insanenoodlyguy

          I’m not complaining about this,since it has been pointed out to me that miracle reinforcement would work especially well on what is essentially necromancy, but I would have thought it’d provide less benefit since they are still constructed from physical materials. But, it’s still all held together by blood magic, so there you are.

          Liked by 3 people

      2. The Callowan Knightly Order armor is more than just protection from *evil/dark* magic, it protects from all, or at least most, magic in general (fireballs, even if the mage is evil, aren’t exactly necromancy).

        Liked by 22 people

      3. werafdsaew

        Outside of Diabolism, there’s no inherently evil sorcery–things are evil or not according to their cultural context. This even includes necromancy, as Daoine’s ancestral worship is a form of it.

        Liked by 13 people

      4. I don’t think this qualifies as ‘exceptionally well’. It’s good old regular well, the minimum necessary to deal with Praesi successfully. It’s just that the Levantines did not expect it, and that they aren’t friggin Praes. Praesi mages are best on the continent and have been engaged in an offense/defense arms race with Callowans for centuries while Levantines were perfecting beast killing tactics. Sabah got surprised by Champion; binders are getting surprised by Callowan fucking knights.

        Liked by 14 people

              1. MagnaMalusLupus

                Hanno explicitly said that she was more savage and prone to taking trophies. Then there’s this bit:
                >”She was not wearing, for once, the wolf fur cloak she’d claimed from someone that was no wolf at all.” -Interlude: Red the Flowers

                That’s not Captain’s cloak.

                Liked by 7 people

  4. Ein

    “…when he told the others that they would resume the attack during the night now that the safe paths to the palisade had been cleared. ”

    Ohhh Yannu, you just done goofed.

    Liked by 22 people

    1. medailyfun

      I wonder what was the logic behind this decision? He should know goblins and possibly orcs can see in the darkness, plus all the dark magic prefers the night time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “All the dark magic prefers the night time” – factually incorrect in this setting, Praesi necromancers don’t give a fuck. Drow are the only ones getting powered up by the Night, and they haven’t been in a single nighttime engagement on the surface yet.

        Goblins are a good point, but they’re a minority of the forces. If the Levantines have a reason to assume their own forces aren’t going to be hindered by the dark, then without knowing about drow specifically it’s a pure win: some of the opponent’s forces, while not all of them, are going to be incapacitated.

        The drow are just… a lethal joke.

        Liked by 14 people

      2. caoimhinh

        He probably wants to take a short rest before pressing on with the attack, taking advantage that the safe path to the palisade was found. Yannu reasoned that he has to use it before the Army of Callow puts more traps during the night, so he attacks at night.
        His reasoning is sound and valid with the info he has, but none in that Alliance joined force has experience fighting Praes, barely a few have experience fighting Cat’s Army, and none can even imagine what the Drow can do during nighttime.
        Of course, we know that Yannu is screwed and thousands of soldiers will die at night (the limit line set by Cat is 1/5 of their army, but that’s still over 20 thousand).

        Personally, I think he should be aware that Goblins have night vision and are the ones who are pointing the siege engines, catapults, scorpions and ballistae, but then again this guy might just let a few hundred of his soldiers die to take the palisade.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Clint

        I *think* the plan is like what they did earlier in the same campaign — use their numerical advantage to keep the other side from sleeping. (Or am I thinking of the Arcadian campaign?)

        If they hit the Callowans at night, raiding with a small fraction of their troops, possibly through Arcadia, they can keep the whole Callowan force from getting any sleep. Then tomorrow, when rest of their force wakes up from a good night’s sleep, they attack the exhausted Callowans.

        Of course, I’d imagine that the drow will be quite a surprise — and in the morning, Cat will be offering to trade a few thousand prisoners, including a few named, for Black’s soul.

        Between Holy knights riding down the Crusade’s necromancers, begging for peace *again*, and trying to trade prisoners for the extracted soul of her mentor/father-figure, Cat’s building a really nice story line — can you just see Grey Pilgrim’s face when she tries to build a redemption story line against him?

        Liked by 1 person

    2. > Ohhh Yannu, you just done goofed.

      This is one I’ve been seeing a lot, and at least at this point in scrolling down the comments page nobody’s made what I think is the relevant point here. Which is:

      It’s probably true that this won’t ultimately work out for Yannu, but a night attack would be sacrificing a lot of advantages for no apparent gain *even with only what they would actually know*. They don’t have anything we’ve seen or know about that gets better at night, and it’s already widely known that goblins can see in the dark and it would hardly be an unreasonable inference that the drow skirmishers who proved themselves useful in Sarcella have nightvision even if you haven’t figured anything else out about them (seriously, they’re from a place called the *Everdark*). Shifting the engagement from day to night is already apparent as a straight loss based on what we know of the Levantines’ capabilities and what we can infer they likely know of the eastern coalition’s capabilities. Since this is Careful (AKA Cold-Bloodedly Competent) Yannu we’re talking about and not Blundering Dipshit Yannu, that means he’s got something planned that we don’t know about, probably based on a capability we don’t know about. And you know the narrative rule about plans that are revealed in advance vs. plans that aren’t, right?

      Tl;dr – I think drow Night powers + Cat’s scheming means that the forces of FUN Cat (FUN = First Under Night ofc) will come out on top, but it will be a closer thing than it looks like it will be to us right now.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. I mean I’m definitely assuming that they’ve got some trick to attacking at night that will negate the obvious disadvantages – that they will be able to see at the very least – I just think it won’t come anywhere close to seriously challenging the drow, simply because they don’t know what the drow can do yet.

        And the obvious counter, Cat’s got a counter for.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. JJR

      As much fun as that would be, they do have to be at least a little bit gentle with the alliance army. Remember, no more than 1/5 (I think it was) can be allowed to die so they can still fight the Dead King.

      Makes me wonder if Abigail’s accidental brilliance was maybe not actually a good thing in the long run. Those dead Binders would have been great up north. Not that there were any other options.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. caoimhinh

        1/5 of that army is still over 20 thousand soldiers, they will be under the red line even after the massive casualties they are undoubtedly going to get during the night.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Sparsebeard

        Well, they can still injure or capture them.

        I wonder if the heroes will keep their cool when the fully rested up Mighties start their rampage. After all, the strongest ones might be in the same category as Pilgrim and Saint… Which is pretty reasonable since they’ve been consuming the talents of their foes for hundreds of years or more… Heck, I’m not even sure if the old drows will even have to take the field unless the heroes show up too…

        Liked by 4 people

      3. P

        I would like to bring up the fact that _wounded_ outnumbered dead by a 2:1 ratio in WW2, and during the Napoleonic era wounded outnumbered dead 5:1. 15% dead means another 30-75% wounded, who will presumably be healed by incredibly overworked clerics for weeks after the battle. Having up to 90% of your force be rendered incapable of marching under their own power is pretty much the definition of a slaughter.

        Liked by 7 people

        1. Aotrs Commander

          Also worth noting that 50% or more casualties (which, as noted, is not 50% fatalities), for that matter, of an army, is sufficiently rare as to be occasions of notable historical catastrophic defeats (Cannae – Hannibal’s famous victory over the Romans) or slaughters (e.g the Somme.)

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Jarthon

            There is an excellent quote at the top of one of the Chapters (possibly in book 3) that goes something along the lines of “anyone who thinks that genocide is an acceptable military strategy for defeating an enemy needs to be removed from command immediately.” That of course doesn’t capture the eloquent humor of the actual quote, but it gets the point across. Winning a battle or war by means of total elimination just isn’t feasible. Even the NAZI’s ran into this problem with killing huge numbers of people and those were unarmed and broken captives for the most part. Twenty percent casualties will absolutely cripple an army for potentially months since they will be unable to move anywhere and will have lost primarily frontline fighters (since, you know, people on the front lines tend to die more than the noncombatants that need to accompany an army).

            Like

      4. byzantine279

        Frankly I get the feeling the Dead King can usurp control over those spirits with a snap of his fingers. It’s very obviously necromancy they renamed to shake off the “Evil” vibe.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. James Ware

    While Abigail fumbling her way through being a general is certainly entertaining, it reads so much like Cat’s same fumbling in books 1 and 2. It’s been done, and it’s lost its novelty value to me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. caoimhinh

      Emm… that was kinda the point, you know? Abigail has a lot of similarities with Cat, they increase with every chapter and it’s purposely done that way.
      Also, Abby is luckier than Cat, because Catherine was a Named villain that had to use cleverness to beat the odds, yet Abigail is a Callow girl that can be blessed by Providence and good luck.

      Liked by 10 people

    1. IDKWhoitis

      Well they dont know about the Drow, or the rules regarding their deployment. Most of Callowan army is human at this point, so while there is an advantage, it’s not overwhelmingly so.

      The alliance is trying to wear down their endurance and munitions, the safest way possible, through expending time. The Lev commander knows about the MetaGame, so he’s not trying to win exactly, he just wants a stronger position in the long run, which sees Callow only weaken overtime gradually as both space is lost, traps expended, and even missiles are fired.

      Liked by 8 people

        1. To be fair, they might well have some sort of plan that they think will work.
          On the other hand, it’s entirely likely, probable even, that they are badly misjudging the capabilities and threat level of the drow. However, they have entirely legitimate grounds to be dismissive of the average drow and utterly clueless as to their actual capabilities.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. I mean the enemy’s probably assuming there’s some kind of hidden knife, they just have no reason to guess specifically that it’s a nighttime powerup. AFAIK there’s no precedent for that kind of ability on Calernia.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. If anything, they might be thinking their own binders are scarier at night. Me, I think they’re likely to find themselves facing Night-materialized manticores and such. In fact, the Twins could pick up quite a little menagerie of subject spirits for later use.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. ALazyMonster

    Well attacking at night… they’re dead men. I am currently expecting the Tyrant to appear when plan number 3 comes from the alliance since plan B is going to die screaming. It should be interesting to see the mess he makes.

    I like how Abigail and Cat both have a habit of only speaking the last part of their internal monologues. It’s really funny.

    Liked by 13 people

    1. IDKWhoitis

      I imagine either Cat and Saint are having one hell of a duel in Arcadia right now, or Cat and Tyrant are haggling terms.

      Either scenario, I believe Tyrant will “Betray” Cat.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. “General?” “Never mind, I’m just foreshadowing”. 😉 But yeah, where Cat uses skill, planning, and bloody-mindedness, Abigail has a mischievous Providence. Some planning too, because Cat has been training her, but the way her impulses just happen to be “the right thing”… yeah, it’s nice when one of your Generals is favored by the Gods Above, especially when the rest of your folks aren’t much.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. fbt

    1) i still love abigail soooo much
    2) wait..was there anyone else in the chapter?…erm.. :p
    more seriously, kudos to robber for schemeing when the generals didn’t (afawk).
    and it’s Abigail’s deadpan manner and inner dialog that i love so much. Plus, her sections are always beautifully clearly written.
    honestly, the vague flowerly language used in the narratives from the pov of some of the enemy is pretty opaque and unrewarding to me, idk about anyone else. Still, btwn Cat and Abby and Black I loooove this story!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      I **really** hope we get to know the details about Robbers plan. Who’s idea was it? And who (if anyone) helped to execute it? We know Robber’s hand-writing is poor so my guess is that Hakram helped.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. Andrew Mitchell

          Great question!

          I was assuming that with poor handwriting it would be difficult to copy a signature. But maybe it would be easy if it was so badly written.

          Liked by 5 people

      1. caoimhinh

        She will quest for him, that much is certain. I remember Abigail said she would only give silver in the House of Light if she “got her hooks on a pretty boy who was supernaturally flexible in bed”.

        Liked by 5 people

    1. Insanenoodlyguy

      I am not super great with the compairson, only because Cain, in his own words, is a bumbling coward (there’s a lot of facts to debate he’s wrong, but he’d say that about himself). Some of his greatest victories were achieved literally trying to run away and abandon the fight entirely.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Darkening

        I mean, to be fair, a lot of his more heroic actions are done entirely because he believes he has to keep up appearances or get shot by his own men, and the line in this chapter about how the orcs might tear her apart if she seemed to be the weakest link in the army really has a similar tone to him, so I can see why people make the comparison. And really, if somebody offered her a comfy garrison position with no combat, I’m pretty sure she’d take it in a heartbeat to get away from all this.

        Like

  8. IDKWhoitis

    I love how both sides were scared of each other and always assumed the other side knew what they were doing. But we see Abby pull off a Foundling Special, taking advantage of any unforeseen chaos and exploiting it into a brutal victory.

    Trading 50ish special sappers and a handful of cavalry for a full thousand men and 50 binders.

    Let’s see if Abby picks up any more of Cat’s bad habits…

    Liked by 19 people

    1. Honestly even if Robber’s plan had gone as intended and he and his 300 had died taking some 30 binders with them, that still would have been a very good trade so far as raw numbers are concerned. The fact that Abigail leveraged that into more dead binders and one *thousand* dead infantry turned the whole thing from a bad exchange for Levant into a ruinous one.

      Liked by 18 people

  9. Robber is really trying not to make it to fifteen isn’t he? Like really, *really* trying. ‘Forged a signature so he could lead a suicide mission to sandwich himself between a group of enemy casters and enemy infantry and attack the enemies most capable of retaliating with extreme prejudice’ trying to not make it to fifteen.

    Liked by 19 people

    1. samshadar

      I am starting to wonder if it is really death that is creeping up to him with “old age”, or if somerhing else happens… And he’s trying to get himself killed before that comes to pass.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. haihappen

        *me imagining* Robber as 30-ish years old, playing with little goblins in the hills outside Marchfort, as he teaches them the ways of the Goblin, when a Middle Aged Cat walks up to him.
        “One more time?” He asks hopefully
        “One more time.”, she confirms sadly.
        The his slightly grayed eyes clear up, revealing pure malice. “Finally!”

        Liked by 8 people

      2. Insanenoodlyguy

        I honestly believe he’s getting or has gotten a goblin name. We don’t know about it because in a culture that works like this, a name is suspected but not proven. If you get a name, you in fact try to hide it as much as possible, openly presenting it would probably cause you to lose it immediately, or at least cripple it. If one or two people can prove it that just results in secret alliances, or blackmail, or the named turning around and doing the same to you or just killing you, which is all fine in goblin culture so that’s okay. Robber, like Ranker before him, has one now or is getting one, and like any good goblin isn’t saying shit.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. medailyfun

      I don’t know why everybody is praising Abigail, it clearly was a set up Story, the workings of Special Tribune Robber pulling the strings of the generals

      Liked by 5 people

              1. Don’t put too much trust in the narration of a terrified person utterly convinced they were promoted past the limit of their competence while everyone else disagrees.

                Abigail was thinking about plausible deniability and failing, yes. But it wasn’t the only ingredient in the stew.

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. Do you think that Cat is wrong about Abigail, or that she’s banking on providence?

                    Or that generally Abigail is competent, but just this one time it played no role at all?

                    Like

                    1. RanVor

                      I wouldn’t say it played no role at all. She did make the right decision when it mattered. It’s just that she ended up in the position where she was able to make that decision purely by accident.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. I just don’t see such a thing as ‘pure accident’ there. It was like 90% an accident, but the other 10% were due to her basic competence that she couldn’t not have even when trying to fail.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. RanVor

                      Expect the text says otherwise. She aimed to request something unreasonable enough to get dismissed, but not enough to get her executed for intentional obstruction of war effort. Judging by Juniper’s initial reaction, she wasn’t far off the mark.

                      Besides, 90% accident is still very, very far from intentional, which is a prerequisite for the outcome to be considered a product of competence. In other words, you’re contradicting yourself.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. Okay, so it’s unfair to call the outcome ‘product of competence’ even if competence was a part of it, because it’s a small part.

                      Is that the core disagreement?

                      Like

                    5. RanVor

                      Partly. The other part is that you’re talking nonsense while being explicitly contradicted by both narration and characterization of Abigail.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. RanVor

                      Yes, I’m being rude, because I’m sick of your bullshit. I couldn’t call you out when we were discussing Pilgrim because it was a largely philosophical debate, but here you’re arguing with hard facts

                      You’re dismissing the fact that Abigail’s core motivation is her desire to get demoted. To avoid responsibility. She focuses all her cleverness, competence and knowledge of the hierarchy and protocol of the Army of Callow on achieving this objective. But she also lives in fear of Catherine, who she imagines to be a murderous tyrant. She feels the need to preserve her life by not giving the Black Queen a reason to blame her for failure. The conflict between these two motivations limits her options to merely a handful. She constantly tries to walk the fine line between failing too much and not failing enough, and sometimes comes close to achieving her objective, but gets thwarted by factors she has no knowledge of (in this case, the relations within Cat’s inner circle). All of this is in the text, so stop ascribing Abigail motivations she doesn’t have.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. RanVor

                      Now you’re contradicting yourself. You claim Abigail requested knights because she judged them necessary for success, and yet you deny claiming that she wanted to succeed (which is patently false).

                      Liked by 2 people

                    8. RanVor

                      No, it was more like
                      “I need to request something I won’t be given, quickly. What could that be? A thousand knights should do the job.”

                      And then
                      “Fuck, I should have requested ten thousand knights.”

                      The Broken Bells are the most elite formation within the Army of Callow, and a detachment of thousand is a force that would normally be deployed only in dire circumstances. Abigail didn’t overestmate the ridiculousness of her request, she underestimated the level of trust Juniper has in Catherine.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    9. We’re quibbling over subconscious process, at this point. I’m asserting that there was one, non-narrated because Abigail didn’t actually consciously think it. You’re asserting the knights were chosen purely by accident, even though Abigail was at least motivated to look like she had a plan, for after the battle.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    10. RanVor

                      The knights weren’t chosen by accident. The knights were chosen because of probability of denial.

                      Also, that’s your argument? If the text is contradicting you, the text is wrong? I think I need you to remind me why I’m wasting time on arguing with you.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    11. I am saying that I do not consider the text to contradict my version.

                      Also, I think there were other things Abigail could have chosen with high probability of denial, and she went for knights as the ideal balance of probability of denial and vaguely plausible as something she could use.

                      Like

                    12. RanVor

                      All of which, except Drow, have higher likelihood of being accepted than knights. And I highly doubt Drow would be the first thing to come to panicked Abigail’s mind.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    13. Sparsebeard

                      It’s pretty clear that Abigail knew that knight where a good choice since she tought that it might hold some scrutiny under the Black Queen’s investigation of the situation.

                      Still, it’s much easier to say in hindsight that you had a plan involving knights, then to actually pull it off.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    14. caoimhinh

                      Lilliet, you are putting too much of your own imagination into the text and thus not only see things that aren’t there, but you are also even contradicted by what the text explicitly says.

                      “We’re quibbling over subconscious process, at this point. I’m asserting that there was one, non-narrated because Abigail didn’t actually consciously think it.”

                      So your argument is not only NOT on the text, but also on the unexplored subconscious of the character that you are making up in your mind? That’s purely YOUR IMAGINATION, that’s not a valid argument in any way. Besides, it’s contradicted by what’s directly on the text of the chapter. FanFic can never beat Canon.

                      From Abigail’s POV: “She sent him off after a quick elaboration, fairly sure the Hellhound would refuse her request and so in the after-battle reports she’d have an excuse for her failure to perform”

                      From Juniper’s POV: “The Marshal of Callow’s instinct was to send him back with an order for General Abigail to make a proper proposal including for what she wanted the soldiers, but she held her tongue. Catherine had raised the other woman up for a reason”

                      Then again from Abigail’s POV: “Shit, Abigail thought, looking at the writ Krolem had just handed her with a sinking feeling in her stomach. The Hellhound had actually agreed? Why would she – no, don’t panic, she told herself. This could still be salvaged if she watched her step… she should have made her request more unreasonable, if she’d gone overboard the Marshal would have refused. But no, she’d just had to hedge her bets and make it look like her theoretical plan had been reasonable just to improve the chances the Black Queen wouldn’t feed her liver to buzzards after this was all over with”

                      RanVor is right in this discussion, Abigail chose to request the deployment of one thousand Knights of the Order of Broken Bells because it was what she believed to be a request outrageous enough to be denied but not too outrageous that she would be treated like an idiot and killed (this is her panicked imagination, because the Army of Callow doesn’t feed people to the buzzards nor kill their officers for failure, but most of the people, even the Callowans, think that Cat is a murder-happy tyrant that commands respect and obedience at all times and punish failure severely).

                      It was explicitly said by Abigail that she hoped the request would be denied, she only lamented afterward that she didn’t make it even more unreasonable so that it would be denied, and we also know from Juniper’s POV that the request was both unreasonable and improperly made, the only reason it was accepted was because Juniper believes in Catherine, so if any other General had asked for the same thing in the same way as Abigail did they would have been denied and their messenger yelled at.

                      Abigail was quick-witted enough that she deployed the knights to save Robber’s cohort, this is true, but not the matter of this discussion. This victory is the work of Providence not because Abigail had somehow won miraculously, no, it’s the work of Providence because the only reason the tools for her victory fell into her hands was because of luck (A.K.A causality, factors outside of her knowledge and control) and she had no plan until all the pieces fell into place together. To outsiders it will look as if it was all planned by Abigail (her signature in the permission to grant munitions to Robber’s cohort, that cohort hidden ambush, the request for knights to counter the spirits bound by the Binders from Malaga) but we as readers have access to Abigail’s thoughts, so we know for a fact that this is not the case.

                      Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t think the request is random is the thing. She was like “I cannot do anything here without knights, if I’m not given them I’m not responsible for losing”.

            And then she was like “shit, I didn’t actually have a specific plan for knights, I just wanted to have them, I didn’t think further than that”

            And then she saw a tactical objective that the knights were indeed perfectly suited for, and was proven correct in wanting them in the first place.

            A broad toolbox rather than an overarching plan; we’re having a discussion about maneuver warfare on discord right now and I’m learning a lot, and that’s basicaly what happened here. Abigail moved in accordance to a higher level mojo than is commonly accepted in guideverse, and Juniper accidentally moved in accordance to it as well, and the result was a smashing success – just because nobody actually expected it to work out this way, doesn’t mean it was an accident or somehow Robber’s achievement.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. RanVor

              I have no idea where you got all of this from. It’s very, very clear from the text that she requested knights specifically because she didn’t expect to get them.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Yes, but that doesn’t mean she rolled the dice for what kind of unreasonable thing to request. She at the very least tried to make her theoretical plan sound reasonable.

                >Gods, Abigail knew she should have made her request more unreasonable, if she’d gone overboard the Marshal would have refused. But no, she’d just to had hedge her bets and make it look like her theoretical plan had been reasonable just to improve the chances the Black Queen wouldn’t feed her liver to buzzards after this was all over with.

                Which means she thought a request for knights in this situation was reasonable. And oh look – she wasn’t wrong, was she?

                Liked by 2 people

              2. Morgenstern

                “she’d just to had hedge her bets and make it look like her theoretical plan had been reasonable”

                “she’d […] had [to] MAKE IT LOOK LIKE her theoretical plan had been REASONABLE”

                Those are the very words the other two depend on for their interpretation and they *are* in the text. There is no fucking way you can make that go away and see her demand was ALL UN-reasonable, because it fucking had to at least LOOK just that – REASONABLE.

                So there is actually quite enought text to at least form an *assumption* that she did have some subconscious process about what over-demanding request WOULD, on the surface, LOOK REASONABLE. Which means she can judge what COULD BE reasonable. Which was all the other people ever argued….?

                I really don’t get why you’re being such a dick about your *interpretation* of the text, as you are, as far as I can see, BOTH just interpreting the text – as if yours were the only one possible. While outright ignoring that passage the others did post that is the base for their interpretation, instead attacking their character / intellect, whatever. All the while claiming this very ignorance about the other people taking a SLIGHTLY different side in this discussion. Which is only that she has SOME degree of competence, on TOP of her *motivation* overall being to get demoted, still favoring to get her head out of the sling by making at least SOMEWHAT tactically feasible decisions, BECAUSE SHE CAN; as far as I followed. oO

                Really, sometimes I’m just confused about commentors on the internet. Does anonymity really always have to end up in un-logically heated emotionally-turned arguments about INTERPRETATIONS of a text that are well possible by the very text itself…? oO Guess I’ll never really get “normal” people… *rolls eyes

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Morgenstern

                  Or in fewer words: Well, this escalated quickly…
                  I guess I’ll never understand why such escalation happens over and over again. oO And about only SLIGHTLY different viewpoints. oO

                  Like

                  1. Morgenstern

                    (And sorry for the swear words in there… reading the mood in those last postings just kinda got me switching into slang-humorous movie swear word use *ahem … it was meant cynically, nothing much else.)

                    Liked by 1 person

            2. caoimhinh

              It was explicitly stated that this wasn’t planned in any way.
              -Robber’s cohort was acting alone and in secret, having gotten munitions via faking Abigail’s signature.
              -The request of knights was entirely a fluke that Abigail expected to be denied, its purpose was to make it seem like she had tried to do something and due to being denied the knights she couldn’t do it, thus avoiding responsibility for the failure.
              -She actually got the knights, which neither Abigail nor Krolem expected, because Juniper reasoned “Cat chose this girl, so she might have something in mind, I’ll trust my Warlord’s instincts”.
              -Abby had no idea what to do with the knights, and lamented not having made an even more unreasonable request that would have been denied.
              -Robber’s cohort acted, creating a opportunity
              -The 1000 knights were ready to be used, thanks to the purposeless request and the unexpected acceptance of that purposeless request.

              This was the work of Providence. Abigail simply happened to gather the moving pieces thanks to luck and quick-thinking to take advantage of an opportunity.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Kissaten

                Knights would have seen use even if Robber didn’t have a trap set up. It’s less of a providence and more of a rolling natural 20 where 2+ roll would be enough to keep the binders away.

                Did Robber knew beforehand that he would attack specifically binders? No, his trap was set against any valid target, maybe targeting officers, but not specifically that one enemy’s move. Knights are a generally good move against pretty much anything. Just like Robber’s trap, they would do their job regardless of providence. Even if it was work of providence, she wouldn’t be screwed if she was unlucky.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. caoimhinh

                  But that’s the thing: Abigail didn’t expect to get the knights, and she even requested them improperly. The knights shouldn’t have been granted, they only reason the request was accepted was that Juniper trusted Catherine’s instincts and thus chose to believe the new General that Cat had elected had some plan for the Knights (and we know for a fact that Abigail actually didn’t and was even hoping they would be denied so she could avoid responsibility for failure).
                  It’s the work of Providence because the only reason the tools for her victory fell into her hands was because of luck (A.K.A causality, factors outside of her knowledge and control)

                  Liked by 1 person

              2. Morgenstern

                Thank you. Finally a reasonable ARGUMENTATION about that position instead of emotionally heated “you’re dumb” and “it’s not in the text (ignoring the other text)” non-arguments. oO

                Even though you still seem to ignore that one point of text about making her request LOOK REASONABLE that the others draw their argumentation from… thus pointing out, in their view, that she knows just what MIGHT BE rather reasonable, after all.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. caoimhinh

                  Thanks, I believe that one must defend one’s position with arguments and providing facts as much as possible with respect. That been said, RanVor is right in this, even if he lost his patience.

                  I actually did not ignore that bit of text, I simply used the other bits of text to counter the argument arising from the use of that fragment of the chapter. Also, that bit of text is actually AGAINST the view of Abigail having a plan or knowing what she is doing.

                  {On one hand, she’d actually be expected to produce results now. On the other hand, as long as she tried to pull off a vaguely coherent plan and failed she’d probably still manage to avoid the noose. Gods, Abigail knew she should have made her request more unreasonable, if she’d gone overboard the Marshal would have refused. But no, she’d just had to hedge her bets and make it look like her theoretical plan had been reasonable just to improve the chances the Black Queen wouldn’t feed her liver to buzzards after this was all over with.}

                  This is the bit of text used to justify that Abigail somehow had a plan and that she made the request look reasonable, right? Nothing in there provides defense for that argument, it just tells us that Abigail hoped she could use that as an EXCUSE in case of failure. She only laments she didn’t make it more unreasonable because maybe she thinks that then it would have been denied.

                  In fact, just two paragraphs above that bit of text, it was stated that the request DOES NOT LOOK REASONABLE. It was noted by Juniper that it wasn’t even properly made and didn’t explain what the purpose of the deployment was (Because there wasn’t a purpose, and this was explicitly stated many times: Abigail had no plan or purpose for the Knights, she made the request with the purpose of it being denied, in order to avoid responsibility for a failure).
                  It just wasn’t too much of an outrageous request that would get Abigail treated like an idiot asking for too much (as if, for example, she had asked for the whole Order of Broken Bells, all the Goblin Fire, or other such obviously to be denied requests) and not too small so that could be used by Abigail to excuse her failure ( she couldn’t use it as an excuse if she had just asked for a single Mage, a small group of Goblins or a single tenth of soldiers, for example), she planned to say “I asked for reinforcements, I was totally gonna do something and had a plan, but the reinforcements were denied so my plan couldn’t be used, it’s not my fault I failed”.
                  And the ONLY REASON that such unreasonable and improperly made request was accepted was that Juniper trusts Catherine’s instincts when choosing Abigail, so she chose to believe the new General had a plan (she didn’t have any).

                  From Abigail’s POV: “She sent him off after a quick elaboration, fairly sure the Hellhound would refuse her request and so in the after-battle reports she’d have an excuse for her failure to perform”

                  From Juniper’s POV: “The Marshal of Callow’s instinct was to send him back with an order for General Abigail to make a proper proposal including for what she wanted the soldiers, but she held her tongue. Catherine had raised the other woman up for a reason”

                  One can’t just add our own thoughts into the text and justify our own interpretation by thinking that both Abigail and Juniper are unreliable narrators, because A) Abigail’s POV shows us the reality of her intentions and thought process, so there is nothing to interpret or see further, she can be unreliable narrator about external matters but not to her own thought process B) Juniper’s POV shows us how the request looked like from the outside.

                  Liked by 1 person

            3. Yes, this. She was trying to cover her ass against charges of incompetence or rebellion. Between her actual knowledge of the milieu and her “natural” luck, she managed to instead cover her army, against the enemy blowing past the defenses and also wiping out the army’s top dirty-tricks squad with its leader. Great work, Abigail! (<Abigail cringes inside> 😉 )

              I will note that if she does end up getting a Name out of this, she probably loses her No.2 slot in the succession. That’s assuming Cat doesn’t need to back down on the “no Named rulers” point, which she might well have to; arms control is one thing, but Names are less subject to political constraint. Especially when several of them apply specifically to rulers.

              Oh RanVor… This story is multilayered, with a lot of foreshadowing, multiple layers of intrigue, and non-causal manipulation (that is, story-fu) in play. There might even be an unreliable narrator or two. Events and even motivations are not the whole story, and “why did this happen” is very much a topic of discussion. Also, remember what I said before about taking anything less than enthusiastic agreement as a personal attack?

              Liked by 3 people

              1. caoimhinh

                Indeed.
                But RanVor is right is this. One can’t just add our own thoughts into the text and justify our own interpretation by thinking that both Abigail and Juniper are unreliable narrators, because
                A) Abigail’s POV shows us the reality of her intentions and thought process, so there is nothing to interpret or see further, she can be an unreliable narrator about external matters but not to her own thought process
                B) Juniper’s POV shows us how the request looked like from the outside and explained that the reason for accepting the request was a personal matter, not any validity in the request nor a tactical judgment. It was pure trust in Catherine.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Hmmm… Consider how the fantasies of escape are only at the beginning. And if you take away the “scheming to fail”, the lead up to the knight request comes out to “damn we’re so fucked… we’re gonna need an edge, Juniper will probably turn me down but I gotta ask”. Followed later (after she’s put aside the “scheming to fail” stuff) by her going “well, that’s going to the Hells, what do I have that might help? Oh yeah….”

                  That doesn’t read like a genuine coward to me, it reads like someone who likes to think she’s a coward. Remember, bravery isn’t about not feeling fear, it’s about feeling the fear and going ahead anyway.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. caoimhinh

                    This has nothing to do with bravery, nothing in this chapter makes Abigail seem like a coward.
                    What we are discussing is whether this was a plan or happenstance.

                    Like

                    1. Providence shapes happenstance and mortal plans alike. “The gods help those who help themselves”, so when their favorite Abigail thought to call for reinforcements, Providence made sure that what she called for would be exactly what she needed.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. caoimhinh

                      Yes, and that has been my point and RanVor’s point too all this time. This was the work of providence, not the fruit of Abigail’s planning, and she had absolutely no idea what to do with the knights (she made the request not only expecting to have it denied, but actually made it with the INTENTION of it being denied so she could avoid responsibilty).
                      So those comments above claiming that Abigail called for knights with even a remote idea of thinking to use them are absolutely mistaken and the text states it beyond doubt.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. caoimhinh

                    Also, you CAN’T take away the “scheming to fail”, because that’s the entire reason for this whole situation and the motivation behind Abigail’s actions.
                    The lead up to the request of knights isn’t “damn we’re so fucked… we’re gonna need an edge Juniper will probably turn me down but I gotta ask”, rather it is “damn we’re so fucked… I gotta avoid being blamed for this, let’s ask for something Juniper will probably turn down, so I can claim that I tried but she didn’t help me and put the blame of this shit on her”

                    Abigail’s moment of quick-wit came afterward, when Robber’s cohort had caused a disturbance in the binders and Malaga soldiers’ ranks (in an operation she didn’t know of), and she had the knights (which she didn’t want, had even hoped to be denied, but got due to Juniper’s trust in Cat).

                    Liked by 2 people

                2. Also, the request may have been out-of-the-blue, and Juniper suspicious of the “greenhorn general”, but still: “Hey, could I have some of those knights over here?” was not an unreasonable request.

                  Like

                  1. caoimhinh

                    It is, actually. It’s the equivalent of making a call for 1000 S.W.A.T members or perhaps something like the deployment of 100 fighting jets, 100 helicopters, 100 tanks, or 1000 Special Black Ops soldiers. Special units like the Knights of the only Chivalric Order in current Callow are not something that moves on a whim, they aren’t casually deployed.
                    Abigail is a General, so she CAN ask for them, but she needs a reason, which is something she didn’t have. Also “Hey, could I have some of those knights over here?” is not a proper request for them “Marshall, I need 1000 knights to send against enemy units” is the way a General should do it.

                    More importantly, what we discuss here is that the purpose of the request was (as explicitly stated by Abigail over and over) not to receive the knights but to be DENIED the knights and use that as excuse to avoid responsibility.

                    Like

                    1. There’s an old slogan I’ve seen on buttons and such: “Don’t believe everything you think”. I think that slogan applies to Abigail.

                      Also, asking for the knights here isn’t like asking for SWAT teams to be mobilized from scratch. The knights are already present and waiting for action, even if they weren’t originally assigned to her front. And she wasn’t even asking for all of them. If a General says they need something in particular, you at least think about it, and note that Juniper did in fact grant the request. (I also note that there’s no reason Providence couldn’t affect the orc’s thinking as well.)

                      Like

                    2. caoimhinh

                      It’s weird that you mention that slogan.
                      Do you not know what the phrase “Don’t believe everything you think” means and its usage?
                      That phrase is not applicable here. It means to question one’s own ideas and preconceptions, to break free from limiting beliefs, It’s not to say “what I believe I’m thinking is not actually what I’m thinking” as you are implying.

                      There’s no misconception or lack of belief in oneself here, we read Abigail’s thoughts and she clearly states her intentions, her reactions to what is happening, and her decision-making process without sarcasm or ambiguity, there is no space for hidden meanings, there’s no second interpretation or deeper thoughts in her actions.

                      The text also explictly states both Juniper’s initial intention to deny the request (it was improperly made and stated no purpose for the knights) and the reason why she accepted it (Abigail was chosen by Cat, so Juniper believes she must be someone talented who might have a hidden purpose and a plan) and Abigail’s reaction for when the request is accepted is “shit, why did she agree?”. It is not open to interpretation, it is clearly and unambiguosly stated.

                      Also, asking for the knights is like asking for SWAT or any other elite military unit; in our world on an ordinary day even when police officers are called to a scene they are informed what their purpose is and what the situation is at their location. This is specially true in a state of emergency, and that’s exactly what this is, with the Army of Callow under siege and surrounded by hostile forces on all sides, so if you call for 1000 of the elite units you need to state what you intend to do with them, because they need to be ready to respond to any situation that may arise. They aren’t, and can’t be, deployed on a whim. They only move with a purpose. Juniper made an exception and broke protocol to authorize the deployment despite there been no clear purpose because she trust Catherine and believes that the General chosen by Cat wouldn’t make a deployment request without a battle plan (turns out she would, but Juniper doesn’t know that).

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. We’re down at the reply edge here and the new chapter’s up, but I’ll just say that I think you have undue faith in EE’s literalism here. And while the Army of Callow does have some formal procedures, it’s still operating under an essentially feudal system, so most of the time Persons will take precedence over Rules. In particular, the only authority Juniper and Abigail ultimately answer to, is their queen — even if she calls for a military board, they are meeting by and under her authority.

                      Like

                    4. caoimhinh

                      Yes… that’s why Juniper’s trust in Catherine led her break of protocol to allow Abigail’s request despite it being improperly made and not giving any reason for the deployment.
                      What you just said doesn’t contradict my point in any way.
                      I’m not putting undue faith in the literalism here, I’m simply not making stuff up. There’s a difference. We can make assumptions and especulate in lots of things, and narration is sometimes sarcastic, but IN THIS CASE it was unambiguous and serious, so what’s stated there can’t be denied by a reader’s imagination.

                      Like

  10. caoimhinh

    That epigraph was amazing, and it indeed sums up the current conflict of this Arc.
    Oh, a chapter dedicated to Abbigail, nice. Providence is on her side, even if no one has realized it yet.

    “A girl can dream, right?”
    Yes, Abby, but unfortunately your lessons with Cat haven’t yet reached to the point of teaching you the power of PLOT, otherwise you would see that your Fate is success, just probably not the way you imagined, hahaha. Just take a look at the way Robber falsified the signature and got materials to mount his secret operation. He succeeded in happily killing enemies and now the credit for it is Abby’s. Just as planned.
    Sure, if he had failed the blame might have gone to Abby before someone (probably Cat or Hakram) realized that it was a fake, but hey, that’s just honest goblin friendship, right?

    “just because she was a lunatic didn’t mean she was wrong.”
    True words, and this applies to almost every major character in this series, too.

    Mentions of honor duels and killing among Levantine nobility, a good reminder of how obsessed they are with that concept. Kinda reminds me of the villains in Chinese Xianxia stories and their obsession with being given “face”, they can kill someone just for not greeting them in the appropriate manner. They usually end up being killed by MC.

    So, Yannu wants to attack at night, eh? He’s sooo fucked and won’t even know what hit him, that army is gonna get a nightmarish surprise via the Drow’s Night Miracles.

    Typos found:
    -no binder saved those Bestowed had ever succeeded / no binder save those Bestowed had ever succeeded
    -Abigail thought, look at the writ / Abigail thought, looking at the writ
    -she watcher her step / she watched her step
    -she’d just to had / she’d just had to
    -do that without using sending sappers in / do that without sending sappers in
    -they had prepare / they had prepared
    -a spray snow and earth / a spray of snow and earth
    -a hidden nook within the put / a hidden nook within the pit
    -Razing Tanja / Razin Tanja
    -blamed for this wasn’t she? / blamed for this, wasn’t she?
    -The goblin she’d needed to keep alive as alive / The goblin she’d needed to keep alive was alive
    -patted his horse’s man / patted his horse’s mane
    -he should probably should have let them / he probably should have let them
    -one must now grow too fond of plans / one must not grow too fond of plans
    -every manoeuvre on this field was in fact was a jostling / every manoeuvre on this field was in fact a jostling

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Valkyria

    I’d really like to hear what Juniper thought when she saw Abigail’s “Plan” unfolding.

    I bet it would be a hilarious thing to behold, full of misconceptions.

    Liked by 13 people

    1. mananaysiempre

      Not EE’s fault, just the ad network (WordAds, in this case) failing to filter a script inside an ad. It happens from time to time to every one of them, including Google. (Yes, this does mean blocking ads decreases your risks of a malware infection; just another term in the cost-benefit calculation.)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. SpacyRicochet

    “Lord Yannu Marave patted his horse’s man, and fondly held out his palm to feed her the last piece of bread from the loaf when she turned.“

    All of this is now canon and should be preserved for prosperity!

    Liked by 6 people

  13. SITB

    The ‘obscure library’? Is it also manned by an ape? It seems like EE slipped another reference (though I doubt anything would beat the Bumbling Conjurer).

    Regarding the GA attacking at night, I am going to assume that Yammu isn’t an idiot and even if he doesn’t know about the drow’s particularities everyone know about the goblin’s night vision. Merely attacking at night is foolhardy so I assume he has another trick planned. We would probably see the army of Callow+Drow unveiling the well that Cat created as a counter to it.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Morgenstern

      He’s planning to do the Pilgrim’s bidding, wanting a DRAW for this one. So yeah, I’d personally assume he has good reasons why he chooses to wait until nightfall, not only mundanely tactical ones. Also, he was explicitly mentioned as someone who does NOT flinch from offering up a lot of “sacrificial lambs” (aka deaths of his own people) for getting what he wants.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Aotrs Commander

    Question, seeing as the wiki does not seem to have it, nor was a google search helpful… Where did Abigail show up first and where (if anywhere) did we get a description of her? I *think* the former part may have been Skirmish I (as far as my own investigation goes) for her first appearance, but that didn’t seem to have a description.

    Just struck me as one of those things that sometimes, your mind associates a sort of feel, rather than an image to a character and I wanted to sort of reinforce her image i my head, if you know what I mean?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      Skirmish I was the first we saw of Abigail (at least I’m pretty sure that was the first). We got to read a little more about her every time she had screentime. I don’t recall seeing much of a description of her appearance through.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Speaking of appearance, there’s something about Cat: The wiki (and the images there) describe her as having the “slight build” of the Deoreithe (though she’s only half that). I’m not sure where that’s mentioned, but even as the series kicked off, before she had any powers, she was fighting people considerably larger than her, and if she didn’t always win, she wasn’t getting squashed either. That certainly implies she’s pretty muscular, and it makes more sense to me that she would have a brawnier build. (I am likely influenced in this by having short, brawny women in my own family. 😉 )

        Liked by 1 person

    2. caoimhinh

      Yeah, Skirmish I was Abigail’s first time in the series, but we never got to see any description of her appearance until Catherine arrived to Sarcella to save the Third Army in Chapter 12: Relief in book 5, Abigail was described by Cat as “younger than me, black hair slightly longer than Legion regulations but acceptably so for a foreign campaign. Sunburnt cheeks, watery blue eyes and a delicate nose.”
      She is also taller than Cat, but who wasn’t? Only Goblins and Amadeus are shorter than Cat XD

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Aotrs Commander

        Excellent, ta. I had a feeling it might have been something around then, but I couldn’t remember exactly where or if there was anything else previously.

        *mental image updated properly*

        Liked by 2 people

        1. caoimhinh

          I was surprised by Abigail’s age being younger than Cat (and Cat is less than 22), since initially she gave me the impression of an older woman, in two occasions mentioning that she wanted to find pretty and young boys to take to bed.
          It’s also worth noticing that the reason Abigail is so high in the ranks is because she is a member of Nauk’s division, which always acted as vanguard and thus suffered heavy casualties, so everyone around and above her rank just kept dying until she ended up in her current position as General and her orc aide (a young boy according to Juniper) is a Legate now.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. SpeckofStardust

    Anyone else noticed this amusing thing.
    “The Grey Pilgrim did not answer immediately. Instead the holy man gazed at the distant ring of raised stones, that incongruous crown atop a tall barrow.”
    Its the exact same thing as Catharine did.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. SpeckofStardust

        “Callow and crowned by a strange pattern of great stones. Three concentric rings, the stones of them interlocking to give the illusion of a full and complete circle when one stood at the foot of the barrow.”
        In weaver woven its where cat had her thinking out loud about everyone’s likely plans and movements and what they know about each others plans and movements in order for people to plan how to get what they want out of this mess.

        Like

  16. Alex

    Erratic, the ads on mobile are really bad this post. Can’t even read anything before I’m forced away to a “You’ve Won!!!11!1!one!!!” page that I can’t escape from and have to shut the browser to return, then the process repeats itself.

    Like

  17. Mammon

    *Abigail tries to lose and be demoted or fired without being executed.*
    *Abigail, who’s good, sees that the enemy is sending forth necromancy rituals.*
    *Abigail tries to lose, using that grand overpowering force of the enemy.*
    Hellhound: Nope. Misunderstanding will see to it that I aid you.
    Robber: Nope. I’ve already ensured that you will be forced to win.
    *Abigail sees to her horror that a masterplan is coming together.*

    You know, this sounds a lot like providence. Like a hero’s coincidental success against villains despite the odds being against them thanks to coincidence and optimal performance and compatibility of a select few troops. Like Levant is experiencing being the evil side.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Oh my god that’s hilarious. If Abigail gets a Name it should unambiguously be Heroic. Then she tries to use that as grounds to be fired, Cat goes “What? No. I am 100% willing to employ heroes, remember? It’s just that nobody ever took the job before. Anyway you deserve a pay raise.”

      And so the Blessed General sighs as she gets a bigger paycheck.

      Liked by 9 people

        1. That’s the point where you start realizing that a certain part of the ‘hero/villain’ dichotomy is arbitrary political bullshit.

          Absolutely nothing about Vivienne’s goals, methods, approach or deep allegiance changed the minute she decided to take Cat’s offer.

          There was no metaphysical change, either.

          But that was the moment she changed from “heroine” into “villain”/”fallen heroine” in the narrative the West has of this story.

          Liked by 2 people

  18. And so Abigail becomes Hideyoshi of the Sengoku Jidai. The peasant who rose meteoric through the ranks and became one of the top generals of a walrord who would go on to rule a nation. Like her counterpart Abigail isn’t the greatest warrior or most brilliant commander. What they are known for is outside the box ideas and pulling off victories with minimal resources.

    The difference between them is that Abigail only sort of deserves her reputation, but that can be improved with time.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Poor Abigail, lol. Figures that she would get stuck with Robber’s group. A few battles with him “under her command” (and I say that very loosely), and she’ll have learned improvisation enough to make her a match for Hellhound.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Lumin

    When Abigail prayed to the gods, did above listen, or was it the sisters? Might we see the beginning of human worship of the Crow sisters (whether intentional or not)?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. > “She will not step in even if the palisade is assaulted,” the Pilgrim finally said. “Perhaps not even if the camp is breached, as you had arranged.”

    Because she’s not there… should be interesting when Pilgrim (and we) find out what they’re up to.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You’re thinking of the scouts reporting “strange lights above” the barrow? But those scouting reports were from earlier — since then, she’s set her generals and marshals to fight on their own, while she went off on one of her own missions.

        The Gray Pilgrim was very clear that Cat wouldn’t be getting involved in this battle; that said, I suspect he either failed to ask his Choir the right question, or is being cagey (and nervous) about the answers he did get.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. Morgenstern

            Hmm… you know, you saying that makes me think that this might be the actual reason for the Plan B Yannu is implementing – his goal is, after all, to help the Pilgrim achieve his goal. And the Pilgrim only comes into play when Cat comes into play, after, not before, because he wants a draw. It might not mean, he’s getting that. But it’s a perfect reason for plan B being to actually attack at night, despite everything. Yannu is, after all, ready to make big sacrifices for his chosen goals. In this case, the Pilgrim’s goal(s),

            Liked by 2 people

          2. caoimhinh

            Yes, and that happened yesterday, when the Rogue Sorcerer, Lord Akil Tanja and Lady Aquiline were crossing the break from Arcadia. In the previous chapter Akil stated that the passage had been there until morning. Now the armies rested, made camp, organized their battle plan with Yannu (actually listened to Yannu’s plan and obeyed) and are launching the attack. So by the timeline given Cat should have ridden with the Wild Hunt the night before this fight.

            Like

            1. I thought that too, but other people have convinced me that it’s more plausible that the crossing both opened and closed this morning, with a few hours’ gap for the army to get through.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. caoimhinh

                Yeah, that seems to be the case, even logistically weird as it is to not take any rest after crossing that hellscape and only using few hours to coordinate plans with the other army (admittedly it was only Yannu ordering them what to do). After all, that seems to be the only explanation that fits with everything else.

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. caoimhinh

                    Why the angry face? It is weird! Those people had practically no rest. It would make more sense for them to wait until the next day to engage, but they seem to be in a hurry to fight.

                    P.S: how do you use emoji and cursive words? Do I need to create my own site in wordpress first to do that?

                    Like

  22. NerfContessa

    Lovely how it all came together.

    Not so lovely that I’ve. Caught up. Again. Dang I intended to leave another 2.chapters before. That happened…..

    Ah well.

    An attack at night. Hahaha, oh my.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Walter

    I wonder if this is going to involve some type of Chess.

    The Grey Pilgrim can’t intervene first – but Ivah and the other senior Drow have been shown to be in the same ballpark with him and Peregrine,

    So im imagining that if the senior Drow engage with the Dominion forces, GP and Peregrine may take that as an invite to reply in kind, but “technically”, they would be the first Named to enter the fight, and thus dooming the Dominion to lose the fight.

    Speculating even further, this would allow Cat to continue her winning streak, and allow her to negotiate/dictate terms that allows her to absorb the Dominion forces / take them prisoner, and then head North to fight the Dead King.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Given the elder drow are on par with hero’s and villains, I’m sure they count as such. However, the question may be whether they count as Cat’s agents for this particular purpose

      Like

  24. LindonAurlies

    Guys this is my first ever comment but did no one pick up that Abigail has a loyal orc second who ties up all her loose ends
    One who calmly follows her blindly since we were 1st shown Abigail in the battle of the camps .

    Reminds us of another lovely orc second callowan commander duo this series has touched on….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. Hakram’s Name of Adjutant implies that “loyal orc second” is an in-world trope already, common and well-known enough to warrant a Name to represent it. Note that’s another of Black’s victories, since by Hakram’s account, orcs simply weren’t officers before Black’s reforms.

      Like

  25. Barrendur

    @Erraticerrata:

    Why are all your updates getting studded with asinine adverts now? Have you recently decided to allow advertising on your ‘Practical Guide’ site?

    Like

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      Adverts have always been there – they’re mentioned often in the comments.

      But I’ve never seen thwm. Check your ad blocker. If that’s OK then it may be malware on your device.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. aran

    Forget Cat, Abigail is now the protagonist of this story. ❤

    This whole thing is going to end with her as Acting Empress of Calernia, Sovereign of All She Beholds pro tempore, still on a Captain's salary and still constantly making plans to quietly run away because she's terrified that any second they're all going to figure out she's a clueless impostor.

    Liked by 1 person

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